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China Institute’s former Upper East Side HQ will host Kips Bay Decorator Show House

The palatial townhouse is on the market for $29.5 million

Photos via Sotheby’s

Back in 2014, the China Institute vacated its former Upper East Side headquarters for a new location in the Financial District. As part of that move, the cultural institution put its building at 125 East 65th Street up for sale, with a whopping $32 million asking price and the hopes of nabbing “a purchaser who desires the ultimate, gracious, and grand New York manse.” (Isn’t that what every seller of an ultra-posh home wants?)

But three years later, the approximately 10,000-square-foot townhouse has yet to find a buyer, even with a very slight discount that brought the ask down to $29.5 million. So the sellers are taking a new approach: The home will serve as a blank canvas for the designers participating in this year’s Kips Bay Decorator Show House.

The event, put on by the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, has garnered a well-deserved reputation as the crème de la crème of interior events in New York City, with designers like Thom Filicia, Victoria Hagan, and Vicente Wolf participating in years past. This year’s pick offers plenty of space for designers to work with: The home has five bedrooms, a library, a beautiful spiral staircase, a large garden, and plenty of details that date back to its 1905 construction.

And the choice of the China Institute’s former home continues the trend of using a palatial—and on-the-market—townhouse for the event: In 2016, Extell’s Carlton House mansion served as the canvas; in 2015, designers took over the Arthur Sachs mansion on East 66th Street (which recently sold for about $24 million).

Whether or not the buzzy home-design event makes the East 65th Street townhouse more attractive to buyers remains to be seen, but for those of us who can’t afford a $29.5 million townhouse, it’ll be a great opportunity to peek inside a piece of normally off-limits real estate, and who doesn’t like that?

For a glimpse of what these crafty interior designers will be working with, check out these listing photos: